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Balog-Balog dam back on track

CABANATUAN CITYThe cabinet committee of the National Economic and Development Authority has cleared Phase 2 of the P15.8-billion Balog-Balog Multi-Purpose Dam. NIA administrator Claro Maranan said on Thursday that the project will only need the NEDA boards go signal and proceed to bidding around the last quater. Once approved by the Board, we will have it published one week, he told Manila Standard. Maranan met with operations manager Josephine Salazar of Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems and other NIA officials in his first official visit to this city since assuming the post last July 4 to succeed Administrator Antonio Nangel who hails from here. Maranan said the second phase would involve building a 105.5-meter dam and three cascading sections each 25 meters high. As designed, the reservoir can irrigate 34,410 hectares in Tarlac City and eight other towns of the province, benefiting 24,000 farmers in the presidential province. Maranan said Balog-Balog is also designed to generate about 48 megawatts of electricity. We expect it to be completed by 2016, before the end of President Aquinos term, he said. An Italian company was supposed to fund the P2.7-billion project in 1990. But the earthquake and the Pinatubo eruption halted the construction during the last year of the Corazon Aquino presidency. It was only implemented in 1999 with Phase 1 to cover 12,475 hectares for P2.362 billion. Statistics from the NIAs Corporate Plan in 2011 showed that while Tarlac is next to Nueva Ecija as a major production center in Central Luzon, only 32,670 hectares or 29 percent of its 114,530-hectare is irrigated, the lowest irrigation development, among the seven provinces in the region. Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Aurora and Pampanga have considerably high percentage of irrigation development, each reaching at least 70 percent based on 2011 records. Nueva Ecija and Bulacan were tied at first at 74 percent each while Tarlac had 29 percent. Vic Vicmudo, BBMP project manager, said Balog-Balog would also source drinking water while helping control floods.
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